What if your partner died and no-one told you? If you found out you’d lost the love of your life by stumbling across their obituary?
That was the reality for one young man whose boyfriend died before either of them had the chance to come out.
“I’m currently going through what is hopefully the most traumatic event of my entire life,” a heartbroken Reddit user (let’s call him John) wrote in an anonymous post on the site’s LGBT forum.
“I’m not out, so I have literally nobody to talk to about this. I thought telling the story to you guys might be cathartic in a way.”
What follows is the story of two men falling in love before being separated, at first by their bigoted families and then, finally, by terminal illness.
John first met Jack two years ago when the pair shared a room at an American university.
“I was just figuring out who I was, and coming to terms with the fact that I’m bi, when I met my roommate for the year, Jack,” he writes.
“We bonded really quickly and I soon learned that he was gay, and closeted to everybody save me. I came out to Jack sometime during the following few weeks, and while we did our best to not cross that line, we soon fell for each other. Hard.”
He describes the first few months of their romance as one of the most important periods of his life, saying he was happy in away he “never even considered possible”.
“Jack and I shared things with each other that we hadn’t even dared to speak aloud before and sex was fueled more by a desire to feel close to one another than mere carnal desire,” he wrote.
“Maybe we were in love, or maybe we weren’t; but it sure felt like it, and that’s a lot of what matters.”
A Reddit user writes about the pain of losing his boyfriend.
But things weren't simple even then, both men worried about the reactions from their religious families.
While John believed his parents would eventually accept him, Jack's were staunchly anti-homosexuality, so the couple agreed to keep their fledging romance a secret.
Things were further complicated by Jack's chronic illness, he had cystic fibrosis.
Despite being relatively healthy, was in and out of hospital frequently and was self-concious about his body.
"The first time we made love he was mortified to take off his shirt," John recalls. "But, after much love and encouragement he finally built up the courage, and I saw why. His body was beautiful, and he was fit, but he had a massive surgery scar running width wise, just under his pecs, and a port in his chest near his shoulder.
"All I wanted to do was kiss every thing he was self conscious about and show him that I loved it all just because it was his. Some nights were bad. He would lie in bed sobbing, with my arms wrapped around him, terrified of his painful future. I wanted more than anything in the world to make him better."